The Dallas Cowboys defeated the New York Giants on Sunday night on the heels of six turnovers created by their defense. Despite this accomplishment, and the Week One victory that followed, Dallas still ranks 30th in the NFL in total defense according to the statistics. This is mainly due to fact they gave up 450 passing yards to Giants’ quarterback Eli Manning. The only quarterback who threw for more yards this week was Eli’s big brother, Denver’s Peyton Manning.
The younger Manning has a history of burning the Cowboys defense. Back in January of 2012, he not only threw for 346 yards and three scores but Manning also denied the Cowboys a playoff berth. Three weeks earlier, he torched the Dallas “D” for a massive 400 yards and two touchdowns.
This latest monster performance by the two-time Super Bowl winner was mandated by their lack of a consistent running game. Giants starting running back David Wilson fumbled the ball twice and firmly landed himself in Coach Tom Coughlin’s doghouse. Despite both sides knowing this, Manning still found a weakness in this new Monte Kiffin defense. And the Giants exploited it.
Cowboys’ linebacker Bruce Carter explained Manning’s performance to the Ft. Worth Star Telegram on Monday:
“He’s able to read coverages real well. We tried to disguise stuff we were running. I thought he still did a great job. We just need to cover better and make sure guys are where they need to be…Once you are able to pull or have a puller come a certain way and we’re reading it or keying it, we get sucked up and they’ll throw the ball right over our heads.”
Individually, the Cowboys had a lot of stellar performances in this game. Defensive end and future Hall of Famer DeMarcus Ware, cornerback Brandon Carr and safety Will Allen all recorded interceptions. Carr actually returned his pick for a touchdown. Barry Church also scored a defensive TD after recovering a fumble. And the aforementioned Carter led the team with nine total tackles and a sack.
Regardless of this low statistical ranking, the Dallas defense accomplished their ultimate mission: They won the game. Obviously, there are still some “kinks” to work out in this new Kiffin defense. But for this being the very first time most of these players have played in this 4-3, cover 2-type scheme in a real game, it was fairly impressive.